Shopian killings shift focus towards AFSPA

Shopian killings shift focus towards AFSPA
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Afaq Bhat

Srinagar, Mar 7: Four civilians being shot dead by the army in south Kashmir’s Shopian district have once again shifted the focus towards Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which provides impunity to the central armed forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir.
Recently Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made it clear that AFSPA cannot be lifted and the same views were echoed by the Army Chief General Bipin Rawat.
Many people in Kashmir believe that AFSPA is the main reason for civilians getting killed as forces cannot be held accountable. On the other hand Army believes that AFSPA is must to tackle the situation as the militancy related incidents have increased and the graph of the violence is on the rise.
An analyst while talking to Precious Kashmir said, “The AFSPA debate has been going on for the past three decades. Centre till date has rejected all the proposals to revoke AFSPA.”
He said, “All the Kashmir based parties are on the same page vis-à-vis revocation of AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir but it’s not in their hands.”
He said, “Since 1990 only in a few cases forces were held accountable. In majority of cases they were allowed to go scot free.”
An official said, “There has been tremendous increase in the movement of militants in Shopian areas. Army camps have been set up in the area to thwart their movement and prevent militants from carrying out any major strikes. Shopian is the hotbed of militancy.”
He said, “Four people who were killed at Pahnoo Shopian were civilians. Now it’s the matter of investigation why they were accompanying the militants.”
It may be recalled that locals have already turned down the Army’s version that slain civilians were “over ground workers.” “All the four youth were killed ten minutes after the exchange of fire between the two sides. They were killed in cold blood,” locals have claimed.
A Kashmir watcher said, “Government forces in all south Kashmir districts are on high alert. They have got orders to shoot and kill even on the basis of mere suspicion. We don’t see situation changing till the violence levels will come down.”
He said, “Kashmir based politicians need to put their act together and approach New Delhi collectively. Rather than raising their demands individually. At least they can make an effort to tell New Delhi that it can rethink about its policy about how to handle Kashmir situation.”
He said, “Civilians being killed is a matter of concern. Political parties have to cut across their ideologies and prevail upon New Delhi to end the bloodshed in Kashmir.”